SNP conference

Sturgeon demands right to hold indyref2 next year

Nicola Sturgeon holds a flag at the SNP conference

SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will ask the UK government by the end of the year for formal consent to hold a second independence referendum.

Buoyed by recent polling putting support for separation at about 50%, Ms Sturgeon said Westminster had “no right” to block the request.

She told delegates attending the SNP annual conference in Aberdeen: “By the new year, we will have completed our legislative preparations. We are already working to update the independence prospectus.

“And I can confirm today that before the end of this year, I will demand the transfer of power that puts the legality of a referendum beyond any doubt.”

She wants to hold a new poll next year. However, her route will be blocked if the Conservative government remains in power.  Ministers have repeatedly said they will not grant a Section 30 order, which was used to ensure the legality of the independence referendum in 2014.

Ms Sturgeon has rejected a so-called Plan B demanding talks with Westminster on the back of winning a majority of seats. Ms Sturgeon believes any referendum has to go through correct legal process if the result is to be recognised internationally.

Even so, she insisted: “The Westminster refusal is not sustainable. We can already see the cracks appearing.

“Just like us, they know there is going to be a referendum. And they know that when there is, Scotland will choose independence.”

Ms Sturgeon’s focus on independence drew a scornful reaction from opposition parties.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said:“Nicola Sturgeon wants to be judged on health and education, yet she couldn’t spare a single sentence for either during this lengthy and divisive speech.

“Instead, she simply wanted to get through what was a potentially hostile conference with a series of vacuous promises which will never be kept, and throw some red meat to the hardliners.

“Both the NHS and Scotland’s education system are in a dreadful state – a state that has significantly worsened over the 12 years the SNP has been in power.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Scottish Labour wants to end the constitutional crisis, not create another one.

“The last thing our communities need is more division and uncertainty, but that is exactly what Nicola Sturgeon is proposing.

“The SNP’s plans for independence could result in a hard border between Scotland and England which would cost jobs, hurt our public services and divide families.”

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